SEC is to Examine Up to 100 Hedge Funds Focused on Cryptocurrencies, WSJ Reports

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reportedly getting ready to examine up to 100 hedge funds that focus on cryptocurrencies, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

At the end of February, it was reported that the SEC had been probing the cryptocurrency market, issuing subpoenas demanding details about the structure of sales and pre-sales of initial coin offerings (ICOs). It followed a number of warnings from the agency who suggested that token sales may be violating securities laws.

However, unlike the enforcement investigations currently underway with the SEC, this latest initiative is different. A source familiar with the matter said to the WSJ that while examiners will report any suspicious activity they discover during the course of their examinations, the main purpose is to determine how the SEC’s policies should address digital currencies.

“This is a way for the SEC overall to gather information and learn about important new technology and products,” explained Marc Elovitz, a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, a firm which advises hedge funds.

He added by saying that the role of examiners ‘is to educate the commission overall about new businesses or new industries.’

The examination is expected to start within the next two months. Examiners will determine whether assets bought by fund managers are the same as the ones listed in disclosure documents when advertised to investors.

Due to the risk of cryptocurrency assets being stolen by hackers, the SEC will examine the accuracy of risk disclosures provided to investors, as well as how the fund explains its strategy for trading tokens or cryptocurrencies.

According to the unnamed source, even though the agency has identified 100 hedge fund managers who focus on digital currencies, it may conduct less than that number of examinations if it’s determined that many of them only dip their toes into cryptocurrencies or they receive the information they need from a number of inspections.

Last year, it was reported that hedge funds invested around $2 billion in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, with as many as 84 digital currency hedge funds launched, according to Morgan Stanley.

This latest move from the SEC follows from its memo earlier this month, which stated that online platforms trading digital assets that meet the definition of a security are required to register with the agency.

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